A New Dawn in Sheridan, Wyoming
By: Shawn Parker 07.29.2016.
This article originally appeared in the Sheridan Press, June 18, 2016.
Well, that was a wild ride.
I’m not talking about my spin up Red Grade Road behind the wheel of the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, though that in and of itself was rather spectacular. I’m writing instead about the last few months on the job here at Sheridan Travel & Tourism: we’ve seen some of the projects and programs we’ve worked hard on since last summer come to fruition in spectacular fashion.
It all began when we welcomed the first group of journalists from the Society of American Travel Writers to town for a pre-conference visit to the ever spectacular Eaton’s Ranch. Our visitors glimpsed at our Western way of life by fishing, ranching, riding and more, before they joined the rest of their cohorts for their society business at the Holiday Inn. Then the fun really began.
Our friends from Rolls-Royce and Piper Air threw a tremendous party in the Forrest E. Mars Jr. Building at the Brinton Museum to celebrate the launch of the new Dawn, as well as Piper’s prototype aircraft; the community support was beyond what I could have imagined, and the feedback from the journalists, as well as the folks from Rolls-Royce and Piper Air, was tremendous. I have to extend a huge thanks to the Brinton, as well as Weston Wines, for going above and beyond the call of duty in helping to showcase Sheridan’s spectacular draws.
The preceding days were filled with mountain adventures: famed watercolor artist Randy Stout took a few of the journalists into the Bighorns to learn how to paint, while our friends at the Forest Service led hikes at Sibley Lake and up on top of Steamboat. Other journalists explored our historical treasures by touring battle sites, Kings Saddlery, the Sheridan County Museum, the WYO Theater, and more. The consensus from the crew? They needed more time here in Sheridan, which is the biggest compliment they could have ever paid us.
Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure how these journalists would look at Sheridan – SATW often holds conferences in cities like Las Vegas, New York, Reykjavik, Montreal, and other global hotspots. To hear Sheridan’s praises sung among this well-traveled group was music to my ears.
We wrapped their time here in Sheridan with a Crow Nation Pow Wow at the Historic Sheridan Inn, organized perfectly by the one and only Butch Jellis. During the Pow Wow, Rolls-Royce brought in seven other journalists, and each was awed by the spectacle and sincerity of the presentation. Following dinner, we took a sunset drive out to Fort Phil Kearny, where Don Gould from Sheridan Tent & Awning had erected a pair of spectacular tee pees, Butch Jellis set fire to a pair of custom Wyoming fire pits, and the good folks at Weston Wineries sampled not only some of their sensational flagship wines, but also a custom Rolls-Royce blend created just for this occasion. Fort superintendent Misty Stoll gave a rousing starry night interpretive presentation, and I can say honestly, that sitting out there under the stars that night, I have never been more proud to call Sheridan my home. Sheridan Travel & Tourism’s new Film and Digital Production Coordinator Max Brown got on the job early and put together an incredible video of the events that showcases highlights from this event in spectacular fashion.
And just because they hadn’t quite had enough, we sent a group of journalists off on a road trip out to Devils Tower, and then down into Johnson County and Buffalo to experience a bit more of our region. They came back home for one more night at the Best Western, and had a chance to unwind at Powder River Pizza and then the Black Tooth Brewery.
Five of the journalists that were here visiting were already working on national assignments focused on Sheridan; each and every one of the others told me that they plan to cook up something special for their outlets. If we get but one story from each of these journalists, the advertising value will fall somewhere between $2 and $3 million dollars – that’s the sort of value and coverage that can change how the rest of the country views Sheridan in a heartbeat.
Oh, and just for kicks, we’re going to do it all over again. A little birdie told me that the SATW site inspector was so impressed with Sheridan that there’s a good chance they send us the journalists from the Eastern Chapter next year. And Rolls-Royce is thinking about making a Bighorn Road Trip a part of their annual public relations campaign. Having some of the best writers and marketing people in the country sing our praises from the mountain tops is only possible when we come together as a community, so for everything that has gone on here in Sheridan the last few weeks – thank you.
In addition to the organizations mentioned above, I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Koltiska Distillery, the Koltiska Carriage Co., Sheridan Chamber of Commerce, Dave Wooten at Crazy Horse Tours, Trail End State Historic Site, the Mill Inn, Stephanie Koltiska at Mukta Yoga, Bighorn Airways, Denver Air Connection, Pascal Public Relations, Surf Wyoming, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Black Tooth Brewing Co., Weston Wines, and Sheridan Tent & Awning for putting together the best gift bags in the history of travel.